A Visit To The Klehm Arboretum

Rockford, Illinois, is a small city on I-90 just a few miles from the Wisconsin border. I’ve been there many times for my job, and driven past it many more times on the way to Madison (where we once lived) or Minnesota (where my younger son and brother live).

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And yet, until Friday I had never been to the Klehm Arboretum. Klehm has 155 acres of woods and gardens, and is really worth seeing.

It started out in the early 1900s as a nursery run by a local landscape architect. In 1968 the Klehm family bought the land and moved their nursery operation to the site. About twenty years later the Klehms moved their nursery to Wisconsin.

Lots of Nicotiana 'Woodland' and Cleome in the mixed beds.
Lots of Nicotiana ‘Woodland’ and Cleome in the mixed beds.

However, they donated the land left behind to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. This donation made possible creation of the Arboretum.

Thanks to Beth of Plant Postings, nine garden bloggers from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin spent a day together visiting Klehm and two other Rockford gardens.

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Several of the group recognized those Hydrangeas as ‘Limelight’.

We first walked to the Fountain Garden, which featured mixed beds of annuals, perennials, and shrubs.

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Luckily we ran into one of the horticulturists (in the blue cap), who was happy to engage in plant talk with us.

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He even shared with us some Cleome and Nicotiana seeds.

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The fountain garden has a pavilion which is a popular wedding venue.

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Almost forgot to show the fountain at the Fountain Garden.

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As always with garden bloggers, lots of picture taken.

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From the Fountain Garden we wandered further out to the Clarkor Pavilion and demonstration gardens.

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Entering this part of the Arboretum there was a big patch of a very handsome Pennsetum.

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Some dramatic plantings were there to be seen. I was glad to see they weren’t afraid of tall plants.

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Lots of grasses, too.

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Trees were underplanted with Hostas and Solomon’s Seal.

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More Nicotiana. The horticulturist said it seeded all over and they let some of the volunteers grow where they had planted themselves. Same for the Cleome.

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From the demonstration gardens we followed a water garden with its own pond and stream.

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The stream led towards the Children’s Garden.

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An Alphabet Garden was among the attractions at the Children’s Garden.

At this point we had only seen a small part of the Klehm Arboretum, but it was time to move on to lunch and the other two gardens we wanted to see before heading home. More posts on the Midwest garden bloggers Rockford gathering to come in the near future.

37 Comments on “A Visit To The Klehm Arboretum

  1. Nice coverage, Jason and Judy! The Nicotiana was everywhere, wasn’t it? Even though it was hot, the parts I remember most were the plants, garden designs, and time with gardening friends. It was a delightful day.

  2. Beautiful garden! I especially like the children’s garden with the alphabets. Also the “Monet” bridge scene. One thing is certain, he or she who gardens, never has a boring day.

  3. The photo with the bridge made my heart beat a little faster. I wish Nicotiana sylvestris would make itself that at home in my garden. Aren’t bloggers’ get-togethers just the best?

    • It was a lot of fun. We were told that the Nicotiana needs full sun, though the variety I am growing this year takes some shade.

  4. Loved seeing all the Nicotiana~It’s so stately. Lots of fun seeing Rose and Becky. So envy you having good gardening friends for get togethers.

  5. Sounds like a fun outing. Attractive gardens. Glad to read that the nicotiana self-seeds because it’s blooming for the first time in my garden this year; it is a striking plant and smells so sweet when evening comes.

    • What kind do you grow? The kind I grew this year and almost no scent. It’s called ‘Only the Lonely’ – maybe it wouldn’t be lonely if it smelled nice.

  6. I was totally enamored of the Nicotiana. Someone said it is stately and it certainly was in this garden. It was delightful meeting you and Judy on this outing. Can’t wait to see more through Judy’s lens.

  7. What a delightful place and a marvelous day out!! I loved the planting and the fountains.Good to get free seeds too, I do love Nicotiana.xxx

  8. This was such a beautiful place, and even better viewing it all in such great company! Nicotania seeds itself all over one part of my garden. This year I pulled most of the seedlings early in the spring so they didn’t take over, but I noticed this week I have one tall plant that almost–not quite–rivals the tall ones we saw at Klehm.

  9. Beautiful pictures of your visit, I have grown Nicotiana sylvestris or woodland tobacco plant in the UK and found that unless you are growing it as a single specimen it is a “back of the border” plant as the flowers are carried very high up, excellent all the same.

  10. Well, read this after I posted to the other one-lol.
    What a LOVELY place! Just a few hours from us and it truly looks like a place to visit:-)
    Garden Bloggers taking pictures-sounds like we are a species-LOL

  11. What a beautiful garden to visit — and the presence of a horticulturalist willing to give away seeds to visiting garden enthusiasts is a great bonus!

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